You might not have heard of Penn State Club Squash, or even know what squash is, but it’s quietly turned into a successful and low-pressure sports team on campus.
Club Squash found its beginnings in 2008 rather causally.
Two former students who enjoyed playing decided to start a Penn State team so they could begin competing against other schools. Since then, the club has grown in numbers and popularity, totaling 17 members today.
For those who are unfamiliar with squash, it’s a two-player sport that plays its season in the winter much like racquetball. Squash isn’t played in the NCAA like many other sports — instead it’s played in the National League run by the College Squash Association. The sport is co-ed, offering male and female players the opportunity to compete against each other.
Club squash isn’t usually played like a normal sports’ season that plays a different match every week against a different opponent. Surprisingly, Penn State can’t host home tournaments because the IM Building courts are not legal according to international rules at the moment.
To make up for the lack of regulation facilities, the team usually competes in tournaments on weekends in the Pennsylvania area where it faces schools such as Swarthmore, Drexel, Bucknell, Colgate, Siena, and Lafayette.
This season, the team hasn’t been as active as it’d like to be, but is still ranked No. 55 and just went 2-2 in its tournament two weeks ago in Baltimore — beating William and Mary and Siena.
Earlier in the year, a project was made for a Big Ten tournament to be held in Wisconsin featuring the Badgers, Minnesota, Ohio State, Northwestern, and Penn State Club Squash. Unfortunately due to logistics, the plan fell through. They still have a few games left this regular season against Drexel and Bucknell.
Club president Jesper Khurana said that the club is all about having fun. Of course they all enjoy competing, but the team wants anyone who’s interested to join, whether they have squash experience or not. The team even has two starters who didn’t start playing until college. Club squash is active at the involvement fair to recruit new members and also encourages anyone interested to simply send Jepser an email and come to practice.
This season, Jesper said he was able to recruit a few solid players, which eased his worries after losing a number of seniors to graduation. He was really happy with the team’s performance this season considering Big Ten schools aren’t known for squash. “We’re definitely out there making a pretty good statement,” Jesper said. “We’re setting a good impression for other schools.”
With this season winding down, Jesper is looking forward to the Penn State Open squash tournament that the club hosts. He’s especially looking forward to next season with hopes of qualifying for nationals.
“I’m looking forward to new members, meeting, and joining the team, and joining the family,” Jesper said. “I didn’t know anyone when I joined the team but I’ve got to meet all the guys, they’re all pretty great. We all hang outside of squash a lot.”
Jesper emphasized that most of the members are heavily involved in other organizations. But to him, that doesn’t matter. “However engaged people want to be, we’re willing to work with that,” Jesper said. “You can take it as seriously as you want to.”
From humble beginnings, the club is in a good place as it continues to grow and make a name for itself at Penn State.